How To Add, Protect, And Manage Downloadable Files In WordPress

Learn how to better plan, add, protect, manage, and share downloadable files and content in WordPress.

How To Add, Protect, And Manage Downloadable Files In WordPress

How To Add, Protect, And Manage Downloadable Files In WordPressThis step-by-step tutorial shows you how to better plan the process of adding, protecting, managing, and sharing downloadable files and content online in WordPress.

You may want to add downloadable or shareable content on your site as part of your content plan or content marketing strategy.

This can include content such as:

  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Price lists
  • Product catalogs
  • Brochures
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Slides & presentations
  • Media (videos, audios, images)
  • Lead generation reports
  • PDF files
  • e-Books and guides
  • Other digital information products

Additionally, you may want to protect your download files or content from being shared or accessed without your permission.

Downloadable Content Planning Process

Before you start sharing downloadable content online, it will help to work out a few things first.

Downloadable Content Planning Process
Click image to enlarge.

(Downloadable Content Planning Process)

Ask these questions before adding downloadable content to your site:

  • Where will your download file(s) be stored?
  • How will your download file(s) be distributed?
  • Will your download file(s) or content need protection?
  • Who will share and distribute your file(s)?

Where Will Your Download Files Be Stored?

Downloadable files need to be stored either on your server (i.e. where your WordPress site is installed), or somewhere else (e.g. a cloud storage service).

There are many benefits to storing and distributing your downloadable files from a cloud storage location, like Amazon S3, Drop Box, etc. We’ll discuss some of these benefits later in this tutorial.

How Will Your Download Files Be Distributed?

Will anyone be able to freely access and share your downloadable content, or will they only have access to the content after completing a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or sharing it with their friends on social media?

Will Your Download Files Or Content Need Protection?

Depending on your strategy and whether you want to make your downloadable content freely available or accessible only after users take some form of action, another thing to consider is the level of protection your content will require …

Content Protection Level
Click image to enlarge.

(Content Protection Level)

For example, you may want to give account or trade customers access to a downloadable discount price list. In this case, you will probably want to store the file in a private area of your site that only certain users can access, but not necessarily need to protect the file content itself.

Instances where you would need a deeper level of content protection might include the following:

  • Limiting the number of downloads of a file
  • Giving access to confidential or encrypted files that need to be unlocked with a password.
  • Distributing software that requires users to enter a license key to unlock and use the application.

Who Will Share And Distribute Your Files?

Another thing to consider when planning to distribute downloadable content is who will share and distribute your files.

Will users only be able to download the file from your site or will your file be available for downloading on other sites too?

Planning this aspect of the process is important because if you don’t, things can quickly become unmanageable, especially when it comes to keeping your content files up-to-date.

Now that we have looked at some of the questions and decisions you will need to make when planning to add downloadable or shareable content to your digital presence, let’s take a look at how to add, manage, and protect your downloadable content.

How To Add Downloadable Files To WordPress

As mentioned earlier, downloadable files need to be stored either on your server, or in a remote server location.

Storing Downloadable Files On Your Server

Storing files on your server can be done:

WordPress lets you upload files directly into your posts or pages, or via the WordPress Media Library to be used later.

To learn how to add files to the WordPress Media Library, see the step-by-step tutorial below:

WordPress supports uploading various file types using the media uploader. To view the full list of supported file types, click here.

Tip

Not all file types are allowed to be uploaded using the media uploader and not all webhosts allow files to be uploaded. Additionally, you host may not allow large files to be uploaded to your server.

If you are having issues uploading large files to your server, contact your host or see the tutorial below to learn how to increase file upload size in WordPress:

Uploading files to your WordPress Media Library is easy but it may not be the ideal way to handle downloadable or shareable files and can cause issues with your hosting, such as exceeding allowed bandwidth or exhausting server resources

For this reason, we recommend storing and distributing your files from a cloud storage service like Amazon S3, Drop Box, etc.

To learn more about the benefits of using a cloud service to store and share your downloadable files, see the opening section of the tutorial below:

How To Protect Downloadable Files In WordPress

There are a number of reasons why you may want to protect a downloadable file and its content. The main reason is to protect files and content from being accessed by unauthorized users.

Content Protection Methods

Protecting downloadable files in WordPress can be done in several ways. You can add downloadable files to:

  • Deep-nested pages
  • Password-protected pages
  • Private pages
  • Content lockers
  • Membership sites
  • e-Commerce sites

These methods are all explained in more detail in this tutorial:

How To Manage Downloadable Files In WordPress

WordPress lets you manage your download files right out of the box but it doesn’t have advanced management features like download password protection, tracking file revisions and the number of downloads, preventing unregistered users from accessing your files, managing and selling digital downloads and more!

You can easily add these features using file management and download management plugins like the ones shown below:

WordPress Download Manager

WordPress Download Manager

(WordPress Download Manager)

WordPress Download Manager is a free WordPress plugin that lets you manage, track and control file downloads from your WordPress dashboard. You can control access to your download files using passwords and user roles, control downloads by speed or by putting a limit on download count per user, block bots or unwanted users or spammers using Captcha Lock or IP Block feature, ask users to agree with your terms and conditions before they can download files, and even sell digital items and products.

To learn more about this plugin, go here: WordPress Download Manager

Download Monitor

Download Monitor

(Download Monitor)

Download Monitor is a free WordPress plugin with an intuitive user interface that lets you upload and manage, categorise and tag downloadable files, insert download links into posts and pages, display download links, track downloads, log access & show file download counts, add multiple file versions per download, and more.

This plugin also provides extensions and add-ons that allow you to integrate your downloads with remote storage accounts (e.g. Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc.), add Captcha, email lock (users need to provide their email address before they can access the download), email notifications, adding terms and condition checkboxes, CSV import and export and more.

To learn more about this plugin, go here: Download Monitor

WP Download Manager Pro

WP Download Manager

(WP Download Manager Pro)

WP Download Manager Pro is a premium WordPress files and documents management plugin for managing, tracking, and controlling file downloads. It is also an e-Commerce solution for selling digital products from your WordPress site.

The plugin includes many features for selling & monitoring file downloads like price variations, licensing, password protection, download visibility based on members roles and capabilities, hit counter, etc., as well as social locking and media streaming features.

To learn more about this plugin, go here: Download Monitor

WP-Filebase Pro

WP-Filebase Pro

(WP-Filebase Pro)

WP-Filebase Pro is a plugin that keeps your download files structured in categories, comes with smart, mobile-responsive templates to embed files into your post or page content, and provides fast download features for users.

This plugin lets you securely sync files with an FTP server or use an extension for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon S3 (including Cloudfront), GitHub, ownCloud and others. Files remain wherever they are uplaoded and the WP-Filebase plugin handles permissions, URL signing and redirects.

Additionally, the plugin scans your files for meta data and keywords, so your actual document content becomes searchable, lets you assign individual access and upload permissions per user or user-role, prevents direct, unauthenticated file access, and protects download files stored in the cloud.

To learn more about this plugin, go here: WP-Filebase Pro

WooCommerce

WooCommerce

(WooCommerce)

WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell anything, anywhere. WooCommerce powers over 30% of all online stores and is built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, giving store owners and developers complete control, endless flexibility, and access to hundreds of free and premium WordPress extensions.

WooCommerce is more than just a download file management plugin. It is a complete WordPress e-Commerce platform that lets you sell all types of physical and digital products, offer bookings, memberships, recurring subscriptions, discounts on digital downloads, and a whole lot more.

To learn more about this plugin, go here: WooCommerce

Trackerly

Trackerly Link Management And Redirection Tool

(Trackerly)

Trackerly is a complete link management and redirection tool that lets you create powerful keyword redirect links branded to your website, with advanced analytics made for marketers, and gives you complete control of your download links (see the special tip below). Trackerly is an SaaS (Software as a Service) application with a WordPress plugin.

To learn more about this tool, go here: Trackerly

How To Distribute And Share Downloadable Content Effectively

Let’s suppose that you distribute your products through different outlets. As part of your marketing strategy to increase product sales, you create an online catalog and encourage your distributors to promote your online catalog.

  • Where will you store the catalog file?
  • Will your distributors have access to a copy of your catalog file so their customers can download it from their website, or will they have to send their visitors to your site to download the catalog?
  • If your distributors have a copy of the catalog file, what happens when the catalog needs to be updated?
  • If you store the catalog file on your server and ask your distributors to point their download link to your server location, what happens when you update the file? Will you have to overwrite previous versions of your catalog? If so, what happens to the old versions? How will your distributors access older versions of the catalog if required?

Tip

Here is a really useful time-saving tip for managing, distributing, and sharing your downloadable content effectively …

How to manage your downloadable content effectively
Click image to enlarge.

(How to manage your downloadable content effectively)

First, you will need to set up a cloud storage service like Amazon S3 to upload and store all your downloadable files.

Next, set up a link management and redirection tool to manage your download links.

Now, here’s all you have to do to keep your downloadable and shareable content manageable:

  1. Upload your file to your cloud storage account (see this tutorial).
  2. Copy the link of your uploaded file and use it to create a redirection link in your link management tool (see this tutorial).
  3. This redirect link is the download link for your file. Use only this redirect link on your site and everywhere else.
  4. When your file needs updating, all you have to do is upload the new file to your cloud folder location, overwriting the old file. Anyone who clicks on the download link will get the latest version of your file.
  5. If you change your download file’s destination, simply change the destination URL in your link redirection tool. The download link will remain the same but users will be redirected to the new destination URL.

Let’s go through a practical example of the above method:

Let’s say you create a product catalog and name the file XYZCatalog2018.pdf.

First, upload file XYZCatalog2018.pdf to a folder on your cloud storage server (e.g. create a folder called ‘catalogs’). If you use the Amazon S3 service, the URL where your file is located would then be something like this:

http://xyz.s3.amazonaws.com/catalogs/XYZCatalog2018.pdf

Next, copy the above URL, then create a new redirection link and paste the URL from your clipboard into your redirect link’s destination. If you use a tool like Trackerly, you can create redirection links using your own domain name. So, for example, if your domain was xyzcompany.com, your redirection link would look something like this:

http://xyzcompany.com/catalog

This is the link you will share and use everywhere for downloading your product catalog.

If you update your product catalog, just replace the old file stored on your Amazon S3 account with the updated file and everyone who clicks on the dowload link will get the new version.

Now, what if you want to create a new catalog each year (e.g. XYZCatalog2019.pdf, XYZCatalog2020.pdf, etc.)?

Here’s a simple way to have users download the new catalog edition instead of the old one without having to change download links:

First, upload each new catalog file to the cloud into the ‘catalogs’ folder.

E.g:

  • XYZCatalog2018.pdf
  • XYZCatalog2019.pdf
  • XYZCatalog2020.pdf
  • XYZCatalog2021.pdf
  • etc.

The URLs for each of the above files should look something like this:

  • http://xyz.s3.amazonaws.com/catalogs/XYZCatalog2018.pdf
  • http://xyz.s3.amazonaws.com/catalogs/XYZCatalog2019.pdf
  • http://xyz.s3.amazonaws.com/catalogs/XYZCatalog2020.pdf
  • http://xyz.s3.amazonaws.com/catalogs/XYZCatalog2021.pdf
  • etc.

Using your link management and redirection tool, your download link for the file would still be:

http://xyzcompany.com/catalog

Each year, however, all you would need to do is change the destination URL in your redirect link to point to the link of the latest version of your catalog …

Easily manage and share download links using a link management tool
Click image to enlarge.

(Easily manage and share download links using a link management tool)

With the above example, your call to action should be something generic like “Download the latest version of the XYZ catalog here …” (i.e. don’t mention the year). This way you don’t need to change anything in your posts or pages. Everything will be managed from your cloud storage folder and your link redirection tool dashboard.

Also, if users need to download previous versions of your catalog, just create an archive or repository page and add a table or create a list with links to the older files.

We hope that you have found the information above on planning, adding, protecting, managing, and sharing downloadable files and content in WordPress useful.

Downloadable Content Creation Tools

Check out the tutorials below for more information on methods, tools, and resources that will help you create downloadable and shareable content:

Explaindio - Animated Video Creation Tool

Explaindio – Animated Video Creation Tool

Explaindio lets you easily create animated and hand-drawn whiteboard sketch videos ...
Read More
Post Gopher - WordPress Lead Generation Plugin

Post Gopher – WordPress Lead Generation Plugin

Post Gopher is a WordPress plugin that automatically turns your blog posts into lead magnets and grows your subscriber list ...
Read More
Designrr - eBook Creation Software

Designrr – eBook Creation Software

Designrr lets you convert WordPress posts and pages into PDF ebooks and reports ...
Read More
Viddyoze Live Action Video Animation

Viddyoze Live Action Video Animation

Create stunning live action video intros and logo stings with Viddyoze live action video animation tool ...
Read More
How To Publish Books And Create Online Courses On A Shoestring Budget

How To Publish Books And Create Online Courses On A Shoestring Budget

Learn how to publish books and create e-courses on a shoestring budget that will attract new clients and help grow ...
Read More
Link Redirection Management

Trackerly – Link Redirection Management And Tracking Tool

Learn how to manage thousands of redirect links on multiple domains from one central location using a powerful link management ...
Read More

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"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group

Button and download arrow images sourced from Pixabay.

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How To Protect Content In WordPress

Learn how to protect content on your WordPress posts and pages. This tutorial covers making posts and pages private and password-protecting content in WordPress.

How To Protect Content In WordPressThis tutorial was created using an earlier version of WordPress. To be notified of content updates, subscribe to our updates list (see sidebar), or Like our Facebook page.

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Depending on your content strategy, you can make content inaccessible to users on your WordPress site.

There are a number of ways to prevent site visitors and unauthorized users from accessing content on your site or viewing all or some of your posts and pages, while also giving access to the content to others.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use WordPress content protection features and other options and methods that use WordPress plugins to protect content and download files.

To learn more about adding, protecting, and managing downloadable files In WordPress, see the tutorial below:

Protecting Content In WordPress

Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about creating private and password-protected posts and pages using the WordPress built-in content protection methods.

How To Prevent General Site Visitors From Viewing Content On Your WordPress Posts And Pages

Some of the more common reasons for protecting content on your site include:

  • You want to provide information to users only after they have made a purchase on your site (e.g. downloadable info products)
  • You want to provide information only to certain groups of people (e.g. wholesale price lists and trade catalogs, confidential forms and business documents, updated members lists or databases, private company data, etc…)
  • You want to start a private membership site where members must register first before they can view or access your content
  • You would like to offer discount coupons or “how to” information that can only be unlocked or revealed to users with a special password, or after performing a specific action (e.g. sharing your post with others on social networks)
  • And so on …

There are a number of ways to protect content on your posts and pages from being accessed by site visitors or unauthorized users.

WordPress Content Protection Method #1: Deep-Nested Content

This method is more about ‘hiding’ your file inside a deep-nested post or page than actually ‘protecting’ it from unauthorized users.

Essentially, this method involves the following steps:

  1. Add your download file to a ‘thank-you’ page,
  2. Make the page a sub page of another page,
  3. Change the post URL to something meaningless (or something that will only makes sense to you), and
  4. Hide the post from your navigation menus and site map.

So, for example, the URL of the thank-you page containing your download file could be something like:

http://yourdomain.com/marketing-events/frG76kN

This method should only be used for files or content that wouldn’t matter too much if someone who was not an intended target users were to find it.

For example, let’s say you present at a business networking event and decide to make the presentation slides or notes available to event attendees after the event. It wouldn’t really matter if someone who did not attend the event came across your download file. Using a deep-nested page, hiding it from your site’s navigation menus and sitemap, and sharing the URL only with event attendees,  then, would be an appropriate method to use in this instance.

WordPress Content Protection Method #2: Password-Protecting Posts And Pages

WordPress lets you easily create a password-protected post or page, so that only those people with the correct password can view the content on that specific post or page.

To password-protect a post or page, log into your WordPress site, then find the post or page you want to password-protect …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

If you have already created the post or page, then you don’t need to open your file. Just click on the Quick Edit link below the post or page you want to password-protect …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

This will expand the in-line editor …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Enter a password into the ‘Password’ field …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Click Update when finished to save your changes …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

To see how your password-protected post will look to your site visitors, click on Preview

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

As you can see, the entire post is now password-protected. Only users with access to the password can unlock the post or page and view your content …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

WordPress displays the word “Protected” to site visitors before the title of your password-protected Post or Page, and a password form asking users to enter the password to access the content.

Additionally, WordPress will not display your post excerpt when the content is password-protected …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

You can also password-protect a post or page while you are working on the content by clicking on Publish > Visibility > Edit

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Select ‘Password protected’, enter your password in the Password: field and click OK

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Click Update to save your changes …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Your post or page is now password-protected …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Useful Info

Additional Information On Password-Protected Posts
  • Only an Administrator, Editor, or the post’s Author can change a post’s password or visibility setting. To access the “Visibility: Edit” link, go to your Posts or Pages screen, find the Post or Page you want to edit and click on the Quick Edit link. (Tip: Use this method if you ever forget a Post or Page password).
  • When password-protecting many Posts or Pages, WordPress will store your password in a browser cookie so your site visitors don’t have to re-enter passwords if they visit the same page a number of times. Also, if you add the same password to multiple Posts, the user will only have to enter the password once to access every post, except if two or more posts use different passwords. Because WordPress only tracks one password at a time, if two or more posts use different passwords, users will have to re-enter the password if they visit a Post that requires a different password to access the content, and then they try to revisit the previous post.
  • You can change the password of your password-protected posts or pages as often as you need to. This can be useful in situations where you don’t want people who have had previous access to the content to access the content again. For example, if you offer new discount coupons each week, if you reward a new subscriber every now and then with a different product or download, etc …

WordPress Content Protection Method #3: Make Your Post Or Page Private

By default, when you make a post or page private, only logged-in users assigned the role of Administrator or Editor can view a private post or page on your site. When anyone else tries to access a post or page marked private, they will not be able to see it …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

To make a WordPress Post or Page private, log into your WordPress site, go to your Posts (or Pages) section, find the Post (or Page) that you want to make private and click on the Quick Edit link …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages This will expand the inline editor …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages Tick the Private checkbox …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages Remember to click Update to save your changes …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

If you are adding a new post or editing your post content, you can make the post private by clicking on Publish > Visibility > Edit then selecting Private and clicking OK

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Remember to click Update to save your changes when finished …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Your Post or Page is now private and can only be found by your logged-in Administrators and Editors …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Additional Ways To Protect Your Content

WordPress Content Protection Method #4: Use A Membership Plugin

Password-protecting a Post or Page using the WordPress password-protect feature offers some level of content protection, but it also has the following limitations:

1) All users share the same password

If you want each user to have his or her own password, then you will need to set up your site so that only registered users are allowed to view your content. This can be easily done using plugins that turn your WordPress site into a “membership” site.

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

To learn more about setting up membership sites in WordPress, see the tutorial below:

2) All content on the Post or Page is protected.

When you password-protect content on WordPress using the native WordPress function, everything on your Post or Page is protected.

WordPress Content Protection Method #5: Use A Partial Content Protection Plugin

If you want to make some or most of the content on a Page or Post visible to everyone while protecting some part of it so that only those with special access can view it, there are plugins that you can install on your WordPress site that allow you to provide “partial-content” protection to site visitors.

You can use a membership plugin or a plugin that lets you protect selected content including text, images, video and links like the Password Protect Selected Content plugin …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

The Password Protect plugin can also be used to hide information inside other shortcodes, such as video embeds and file download links.

WordPress Content Protection Method #6: Use A Content Lock Plugin

Viral Outbreak PRO - Premium WordPress Plugin

You can partially protect content with plugins like WP Share To Unlock (Free plugin) that will “unlock” the content when someone performs a social sharing action (like clicking a Facebook “like” button, or sharing your page or video on Twitter, for example. Some plugins that unlock content can even help you build your subscriber list!) …

How To Protect Content In WordPress Posts And Pages

Another great content locking plugin that combines partial content protection with viral social media sharing capabilities is Social Locker – a versatile content locking premium WordPress plugin designed to help drive viral traffic to your WordPress site quickly and easily …

Social Locker allows you to offer something of value for free to your visitors (e.g. a valuable tip, special report, a discount voucher, etc …) on your site. Your special content is hidden or “locked away” in your post and can only be unlocked when your visitor performs a desired action to get the free content such as liking you on Facebook, or posting a tweet about your site on Twitter or +1 on Google +. This action then helps to drive free traffic to your site … virally!

WordPress Content Protection Method #7: Use An e-Commerce Plugin Or Solution

If you use WordPress for e-commerce, most plugins, solutions, and services will have built-in content protection features.

To learn more about using WordPress with e-commerce, go here:

Protecting Your Content From Being Copied Or Stolen

Info

Note: It’s practically impossible to prevent people from stealing content that is visible on your site (e.g. text and images). The web was designed to share content online. The plugins presented below will simply prevent those who really can’t be bothered to dig deeper into the source code of your pages.

In addition to locking and hiding content, there are also plugins that try to prevent other people from copying / stealing your content.

For example, a Free WordPress plugin like WP Content Copy Protection prevents people from selecting and copying text on your site or right-clicking on your images and saving them to their own hard drives by disabling the right-clicking and text selection function on your site.

Protecting Your Images

If you are worried about people stealing your images, there are a few options you can look at implementing.

One option is to add a “watermark” to your images using a Free WordPress plugin like Watermark Reloaded. Adding a watermark lets people know who the original owner or creator of the image is, and trace the image back to the originating domain.

Watermark Reloaded - WordPress Plugin

Another preventative measure you can take to stop people clicking on your images and saving them to their computer is to use the No Right Click Images plugin …

No Right Click Images - WordPress Plugin

For additional information on ways to prevent content theft on your WordPress site, go here:

Content Protection – Additional Tips And Information

Tip #1 – If, for whatever reason, you find yourself changing the visibility settings of most of your Posts or Pages to “private”, then install and activate the Private Post By Default WordPress Plugin.

This plugin automatically sets all the Posts and Pages you create to “private” by default. All you have to do then, is change the visibility settings of any Posts or Pages that you want to make visible on your site back to “Public”.

Tip #2 – As explained earlier in this tutorial, by default private posts are only visible to users on your site that have been assigned the role of Administrators or Editors.

What if you want to allow users who are not Administrators or Editors to view private Posts or Pages on your site?

For example, let’s say that you run a business consultancy firm and you want your consultants to be able to distribute reports privately to clients through your site, or your children’s school wants to post class assignments privately to students online through their school blog.

One option would be to make everyone who needs to have access to private Posts or Pages on your site into an “Editor”. This is not a very good option, however, as they would then be able to modify your content.

Fortunately, there is an excellent free WordPress plugin called User Role Editor that lets you change the capabilities of any standard WordPress user role (to learn more about user roles, see this tutorial: WordPress User Management) …

User Role Editor - WordPress Plugin

With the User Role Editor plugin installed, you can assign the same capabilities for reading private posts and pages that “Editors” have, to users assigned the role of a “Subscriber” …

User Role Editor - WordPress Plugin

This would now let all registered users on your site assigned the role of “Subscriber” to access and view your private posts and pages without being able to modify the content.

There are a number of other options for protecting your content online in addition to what has been presented in this tutorial, but these options typically involve messing with code on your site or server.

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"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com